Friday, January 8, 1932
Eli remembered this day well. The detailed flower print of the pale blue dress Rebecca wore stained his mind as she swung around the banister on her porch. Her dress lifted with the currents of the cold wind still trying to separate from winter and grow to spring. The spring flowers on the lawn began to bloom again, reminding them both a new year was born. He remembered this moment more passionately than others because, on this banister under the changing skies of Munich, he realized he loved her.
He walked like a heavenly string lifted him high off the ground. Her baby blue eyes complimented the blue in her dress and the sky. Her hands clutched the metal bars as she played ballerina on her tiptoes and swirled across the porch in her beige thick snow socks. Eli enjoyed watching her spin like a child on her birthday.
She often played like this, but in this moment, a primal hunger saturated him, and only Rebecca could quench it. He grasped her hands mid-spin and spun her such that her face and his touched nose to nose. Rebecca giggled, lifting her hand to cover her laugh and then Eli took her hand and held her cold fingers inside of his warm hands.
Her eyes glistened at her name on his lips. “Yes?”
“I love you,” he said succinctly and sure. Nothing now could be more certain than he loved her. In this city and country where finances were failing, culture was crumbling, and government was grappling for decision, his love for her would not waver. He wasn’t sure how it happened, how he had fallen in love. He had never loved anyone this deeply. Perhaps it was the way she accepted everything about him, or the way they felt as ease with each other, or perhaps it was the uncommon manner in which she carried herself, courteous, and yet free.
Now his gaze searched her face while his heart waited.
“I love you, too.” Her words filled him with a new sensation. He lifted her into his arms and swung her around the porch for all peering eyes below to see. Rebecca tilted her head back, letting her hair catch the wind and then moved her lips to Eli’s soft mouth.
The passion from their kiss erupted inside both of them with an instant flutter of their bodies from the public porch into the privacy of Rebecca’s apartment. She brushed her cheek over his chin, clad with a hint of stubble. Eli glided her into her room with his hands moving up her legs and under her dress, eyes intense on one another as they fell to the bed like currents on the ocean, crashing into each other.
Into each other’s hair, into each other’s necks, into each other’s lips, into each other’s legs, intertwined and lost so that no one could make out where one body ended and the other began until they journeyed like seamen into each other’s seas and the sounds of sweetest rapture left their bodies sweating on the sheets. Rebecca, in swoon like fashion, leaned her limp body against Eli’s on top of the sheets, legs still interlaced with a sheet tangled between them. They laid there until the sun fell behind the horizon and the Shabbos began. Then in thought, Rebecca rolled on top of Eli and propped her body up with her elbows against his stomach.
“When will I meet your family?” Rebecca implored with more intensity in her eyes than in her voice. “You’ve met mine.” She concluded with a fact as any good lawyer would do. Eli couldn’t help but smile at her persistence, enjoying the affection.
“You will, soon. I’ve told my mama I’m seeing someone and she wants me to invite you to the Pesach, Passover this April at her house. You’ll meet everyone there and even have a taste of some good old-fashioned Jewish cooking.”
Rebecca bounced up, elated at Eli’s words, then leaned over to nibble on his naked naval. He giggled and instinctively pulled back at the tickle before drawing to her.
“Is your family upset you’ve missed synagogue recently because of me?”
“My father’s friends told him I’ve been neglecting Shabbos and he asked me about it. I was honest with him. I told him I was dating someone and sometimes Friday and Saturday are the only times we have together.”
“And he understood?” Rebecca asked. Eli scrunched his face and uttered something slurred between yes and no.
“My mama doesn’t understand why the both of us can’t just go to synagogue together. I told her it is not something you’re accustomed to doing.”
“And she understood?”
“And then my father insisted on asking me a rhetorical question involving something to the effect of what kind of Jew works on Shabbos and then I told him.”
“You told him?” Rebecca’s body tensed, knowing what prisons her own mother had built around her life and knowing Eli’s father did much the same.
“I told him, she isn’t Jewish, and he just stared at me for a few moments with his mouth ajar and then my mama interrupted and told me to invite you to Passover dinner, that way we all could meet you.”
“And then they understood?” Rebecca’s hopes lingered with the words repeated.
“And then they all wanted to meet you,” Eli said with a higher pitch in his tone and tickled her sides. “My oldest sister seemed most excited about the idea.” Rebecca giggled and then the stern expression returned to her face.
“Sounds like an intense conversation.”
“It was, but not to fear. Everything will be fine.”
“What are their names?” Rebecca asked, “Your sisters names, your mother and father’s names?”
“Ah,” Eli’s eyes grew wide, “Sarah is my oldest sister. Miriam is my youngest sister and Leah is in the middle. My mother’s name is Deborah and my father’s name is Ezekiel.” Rebecca’s body shifted off Eli’s chest to his side, plopping comfortably onto the thick sheets. Her face lost its pink shade from the friction they shared and her gaze fixed itself on the ceiling. “Are you alright?” Eli tended to her with his fingers raking through her long hair stretched over the sheets such that it gave the illusion of waves on the ocean.
“I’m fine. I’m just trying to digest it all.”
“It’s really nothing to worry about. They will love you. I know they will. I love you, how could they not?” Eli squished himself close to her and she smiled halfheartedly until he tickled her stomach again and she bellowed out a scream-laugh that could be heard upstairs. The early evening became late evening and the night belonged to only the two of them lying like branches twisted on her bed under the stars of Munich, innocent of the country choking around them.